Ever had to give some criticism and it didn’t go well? I have. Probably more times than I’d like to share.

The truth is if you’re in any kind of leadership position, whether you’re a manager, a boss, a pastor, or a mom, this has happened to you. But it doesn’t always have to be this way.

I’ve had to deliver criticism, but I’ve also been the recipient of it, too. Definitely more times than I would like to admit to strangers on the internet.

But I’ve noticed something about the people who give me criticism in a way that doesn’t make me feel like a loser. They all have this in common:

The best critiques start with praise.

When real praise is offered before real criticism there’s something about it that softens a potentiality crucial blow.

Because when we are criticized we tend to exaggerate it. When someone corrects us about one thing we tend to think of it as the worst thing. That we are the worst at that given thing, instead of the truth: human. And humans sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes good-natured ones, but mistakes none the less.

Too often we define ourselves by our failings. But when someone offers up a suggestion or even, dare I say, a little correction, seasoned with genuine praise it balances up the swinging pendulum we all experience in our self-image. It lets us know this person sees both the good and the bad. While they’re not condoning the bad, they’re not ignoring the good either.

So the next time you need to give some corrective action, remember this tip:

Begin with the good before you bring up the bad.

You, and the person you’re trying to help, will be glad you did.


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